Letter Re: Little Life Lessons in Crisis Management

Mr. Rawles,  
I’d like to share some things that happened yesterday at work to really hit home the basics.  (I’m looking to start my own crisis management firm so these really sunk in for me.)  You wouldn’t think of a Library as a hub for disaster, but naturally it just follows people.  Or at least when there are people around, an occurrence becomes a disaster (tree in the woods?).  No place is “safe” from everything.  

1) First Aid Kits — This seems so basic to any of us that we would dismiss minor cuts and scrapes from bearing any seriousness.  “No stitches? No problem.”  Wrong.  If you can’t handle a minor cut in a timely manner how are you going to handle a serious wound?  I think I am going to rename my kits “Quick Aid” to emphasize the necessity of fast response as well as the readiness of response.  Let me explain.  

I was helping move a plexiglas case that came apart and slid down my arm, scraping from mid-thumb to halfway down my forearm.  I didn’t think it hurt, didn’t know anything happened, because it was the feeling of dripping blood that alerted me that I was cut.  We all hate those stupid cuts that think they are war wounds and bleed accordingly.  After cleaning it in the bathroom I came down to get some band aids for my hand, just two dramatic little cuts.  

Currently the building is under construction so things are moved around, including the cabinet in which we keep our “first aid” kit (it’s a jumbled mess of odds and ends and every band aid).  I finally find the cabinet, tear it apart to find the kit, all the while trying not to bleed everywhere still and being thankful that it’s not serious.  Then came applying the first aid cream and band aids with 1.5 hands, since I had to press my cut hand into a towel against my chest to slow the bleeding.  Pretty tricky– you should practice it.  

2) Reliability of the 911 System — We all know that if emergency responders were flooded with calls (more than a handful at the same time) that it could mean a slow (at best) response to your emergency…IF you can even call them.  No phones, no calls.  

Just yesterday 150 miles north of us a construction team accidentally severed a few communication fibers.  Our internet/phone provider went down for four hours.  Also, the fiber used for 911 calls was out too.  And this is during a perfectly normal day.  Can you see all the problems that can arise on a normal day?  Emergencies happen every day (what about a “bad day”?).  Will everyone know to call the local police department number if 911 is down?  Do they know it or have it?  If their email is down they can’t read such helpful messages being sent them.  (Seriously, I got emails from several sources about what to do but only after everything was back up.)  And personally, I can never find my phone book.  In these days, that’s what the internet is for…  

I just try to remember if you can’t handle something on a small scale don’t think you can handle the big stuff.  I think we need constant reminders of how big the small stuff can be and how useful too.  So many of us have a mindset that mental preparedness will glide us through anything.  Just because you have guns and anticipate WWIII doesn’t mean you will effectively handle an emergency.  It almost seems that without a grid down, bugging out, or bullets flying a lot of our plans are useless.  Prepare for and practice on the small potatoes.   – Harper